Tag: David Conwill

This 1929 Durant speedster is nearly perfect, but I’d still make a few changes. Here’s how I’d build it. – David Conwill @Hemmings

This 1929 Durant speedster is nearly perfect, but I’d still make a few changes. Here’s how I’d build it. – David Conwill @Hemmings

Advertisements

I noticed recently that baquets like this 1929 Durant Rugby were starting to show up in the Hemmings Classifieds. I’ve been aware of them for a few years now and it’s exciting they seem to finally be showing up in the U.S. market.

That enormous, brass fuel tank—plus all the rivets—evokes racing cars of an earlier era than the late ‘20s. This seems to a blend of several eras of pre-war motorsport into one romantic whole capable of going long distances through inhospitable Patagonia.

What’s a baquet, you say? Well, it literally means “bucket” or “tub” in a few different romance languages, but the connotation is pretty far from the kinds of cars those words conjure in English. Near as I can determine, the baquet style comes from Argentina (not coincidentally, home of those top-notch Pur Sang replicas of pre-war Bugatti and Alfa Romeo icons) and emulates the kind of rough-and-ready speedster build that was popular there in the 1930s, about the time that Grand Prix legend Juan Manuel Fangio was getting his start in a Model A baquet temporarily built from a borrowed Buenos Aries taxi.

The modern baquets are in exactly that spirit of making something glamorous and romantic out of something decidedly utilitarian. That’s fitting, as the Rugby line was actually the export nameplate for the car known in the United States as the Star—a mass-produced, low-priced competitor to the Ford Model T from 1922 to 1927. It never built the kind of volume it needed to go head to head with Ford but was a moderate success most notable for being part of GM-founder Billy Durant’s third (and final) venture into automaking.

Somebody else owned the Star brand in Great Britain, so suitable “Rugby” radiator badges were worked up and the product went forth under an assumed name. There was a Star Six (and corresponding Rugby Six), starting in 1926, when the Star was advertised as “the world’s lowest-price six,” and it looked a lot like the Four but with a 40-hp flathead six and accompanying longer hood. In the final two years of production, 1928 and 1929, there was no Star to use as a basis, so instead Durant’s Star replacement the Durant 4 was slipped behind the Rugby badge.

Jeep people aren’t the only ones who get to drive around with no doors in nice weather. This is more like a giant motorcycle than a car. Note the floor shifter setup—indicative of a side-shift transmission from a ‘40s-or-later car.

That brings us to this “1929” Rugby for sale in the Netherlands (but, says the ad, shipped “to our New Jersey warehouse” for $1,800 plus a 3-percent import duty). They don’t say it, but I virtually guarantee this car came from Argentina where it ran or was constructed to emulate the cars that run in that country’s Mille Miglia Rally through the rugged landscape of Patagonia. I put 1929 in quotes because it’s a speedster and perhaps does a good emulating of what a Rugby-based speedster built in 1929 might have looked like, but from the start (literally, the radiator) it looks more like a the original, 1924-‘27 Star-based Rugbies, rather than the Durant-based Rugby of 1928-‘29.

Read on

Forties technology would make for a perfect 1928 Ford Model A shop truck. Here’s how I’d build it – David Conwill @Hemmings

Advertisements

A Ford Model A roadster pickup like this 1928 Ford Model A roadster pickup (“Open Cab Pickup”) in the Hemmings Classifieds would make a great shop truck or long-distance hauler with just a few period upgrades.

This one caught my attention because it’s nearly identical to the one we have in the Sibley which was once dragged to TROG. I saw it there for the first time, and I’ve harbored ambitions about turning that little pickup into something with a bit of 1940s flavor ever since. Talking to Jeff Koch about his plans for his family’s 1931 coupe re-energized my appreciation for Ford’s 1928-’31 masterpiece and the myriad ways people have found to improve them since. Jeff wants to walk the line between hot rodding and touring using some newer equipment, but left to my own devices, I’d always hew closer to how Ford developed its cars from 1928 to 1948. It’s a good lesson for making any ’20s car a better driver without sacrificing the vintage experience.

Although the Hemmings pickup is the one I see most often, any ’28 or ’29 would fit the bill. It’s mere coincidence that this one is also a Commercial Green (Rock Moss Green? Something like that) 1928 model. The Hemmings truck is somewhat rarer as it is an early 1928 with the slightly nicer looking splash aprons and the hand brake near the door, Model T-style. Supposedly, Pennsylvania didn’t permit the early design, hexing a big potential market for Ford. I seem to recall the objection was that the hand brake was used to set the rear-wheel service brakes, but PA required separate systems for emergency/parking brakes and service brakes.

No matter, all those interesting old parts, new design or old, could be removed and preserved someplace after a proper pickling/mothballing. In their place would go the best of early 1940s technology, starting with 12 x 2-inch hydraulic drum brakes, front and rear. Up front, I’d go with new Lincoln-style units from Bass Kustom and in back, Ford-type brakes, as they’re somewhat easier to retrofit to an early axle. The Lincoln units have the advantage that Ford chose to license Bendix’s self-energizing technology for its up-market brand, whereas regular Ford and Mercury cars stuck with the Chrysler-Lockheed type through 1948.

The original axles and Houdaille shocks, if in good condition (and the listing says the little pickup has only “88 miles since completion” of a “complete frame-off restoration,” so they ought to be) can stay. If not, there’s always longtime Hemmings advertiser Apple Hydraulics. If my planned tires (which I address below) look a little lost under the fenders, a reverse-eye front spring is a good way to get the nose down slightly without resorting to dropping the front axle

Four-million Ford owners can’t be wrong. The 200.5-cu.in. Model A four-cylinder was a solid, dependable unit that saw millions through the Depression and World War II. The basic design stayed in production for years and fitting one with pieces developed in the Thirties and Forties improves them further still.

I’d ideally give this shop truck a touring-grade Model A engine with a balanced crank and pressurized oiling, but retain the poured bearings. Some of those upgrades may already be present on what is supposed to be a fresh, low-mileage engine, but if not, it would be a good canvas to add them. With a solid foundation to rely on, I’d add performance with a Model A police-service 5.5:1 compression cylinder head (marked with a cast-in B; actual Model B engines got heads marked with “C.” Very confusing) or a cast-iron Winfield head for as close as I could get to 6:1 compression (poured bearings get cranky when you go higher than that); single downdraft carburetor on an aftermarket intakeModel B camshaft and either a Ford Model B distributor or the upgrade unit produced by Mallory for many years in place of the manual-advance Model A unit; and the Duke Hallock-designed exhaust header I had wanted for my late, lamented Model T.

You could probably run this fairly mild engine against the original un-synchronized three-speed, but it would really up the ease of driving if you followed Ford’s route and adapted a V-8 gearbox with synchronizers on second and third gears. The 1932-‘34 Ford Model B used a trans behind its 50hp four-cylinder that was internally the same as the V-8 models but used a different case. Now, you can put any 1932-’48 Ford passenger-car transmission or 1932-’52 light-truck three-speed behind a Model A engine using an adaptor from Cling’s. The pinnacle of early Ford V-8 transmission technology is widely agreed to be the nice-shifting ’39-’52 Ford floor-shift three-speed (exclusive to trucks from 1940-on) containing ’46-’48 Ford passenger-car or close-ratio Lincoln-Zephyr gears in order to mate with the enclosed driveline.

Read on

This dilapidated 1935 Packard 120 isn’t played out; it just needs a new life in keeping with its appearance. Here’s how I’d build it. – David Conwill

Advertisements
It’s lived a rough life. Are parts-car status or an expensive back-to-stock restoration the only prospects for this 1935 Packard 120?

The Packard 120 series was a direct response to Packard’s falling fortunes in the 1930s and they were great cars. As the Great Depression wore on, the traditional luxury market softened to the point where it couldn’t support a company of Packard’s size. Competitors like Peerless and Pierce-Arrow had the same problem and soon disappeared. Cadillac, meanwhile, had La Salle and the entirety of the General Motors operation to make up for slow sales of its prestige machines.

Rather than introduce a new volume line to complement its traditional offerings (as it would later try to do in the ‘50s with the Clipper name), Packard instead introduced the 120 with Packard badging but a price that started $1,405 below the least-expensive standard Eight. A fairer comparison might be this $1,095 five-passenger Touring Sedan (the trunk-back body no. 892, with rear quarter windows; rather than the no. 893 flat-back Sedan or the 896 Club Sedan with its blind quarters) with the standard Eight five-passenger Sedan, which was priced at $2,385 on a 127-inch wheelbase or $2,585 on a 134-inch wheelbase.

The 1930s middle-class demeanor of the Touring Sedan is fine, but the forest-seasoned example for sale would be fun with a treatment that’s a cross between a Volvo Sugga and a Yellowstone bus.

That meant a 120 Touring Sedan like this one undercut not only the pricier Packards, but also the $1,295 LaSalle four-door sedan; the $1,190 Buick Series 50; the $1,165 Nash Advanced Eight; and the $1,127 Hudson Custom Eight Touring Sedan. Pricing was essentially on par with eight-cylinder Auburn models and was even cheap enough it might have stolen away some prospective Chrysler customers.

Possibly working to the 120’s advantage was not just the Packard badge, but the state-of-the-art engineering that had gone into developing the new line. Big Packards in 1935 still used solid front axles and mechanical brakes, but the 120 has an independent front suspension and hydraulic brakes. The 120 also used Packard’s traditional straight-eight powerplant, but in a scaled-down version utilizing a one-piece cylinder block and crankcase. The 256-cu.in. flathead engine made 110 hp at 3,850 RPM: Compare that with the 320-cu.in. engine in the standard Eight putting out 130 hp at 3,200 rpm and bolted into a chassis weighing at least 1,200 pounds more than the 120 and it’s easy to see why the new, budget-minded Packard sold like hotcakes in its first year. Production of 24,995 One Twenties eclipsed the fewer than 7,000 other Packards built for 1935.

The White Model 706 was a capable intercity and transit bus that made its mark on history through an open-top version used in the national parks.

What all that means for this car is that if you want a 120 to recreate that 1935 experience, you might be better off to look elsewhere. Despite the 120’s great history and Packard build quality, fully restored, this would be not quite a $40,000 car; and it would be easy to spend that or more bringing it back to Day One condition.

Read on

Was this Pinin Farina-and-Tom Tjaarda-designed 1960 Corvair Coupe Speciale a foreshadowing of the 1965 model? – David Conwill @Hemmings

Advertisements
The Corvair Coupe Speciale by Pininfarina was a 1960 that was restyled repeatedly in the early ’60s. Image courtesy Gooding & Company.

I’m partial to the styling of the Early Model Corvairs (1960-’64), which is widely known to have inspired the designers who penned the 1961 NSU Prinz. Here’s an example of the other way around. Back in 1960, when the Corvair first came out, someone decided they liked the idea of the air-cooled 80-hp, rear-engine, four-speed, swing-axle Chevy, but didn’t like how much it resembled other Chevrolet products and commissioned Italian coachbuilder Pinin Farina (originally named for founder Battista “Pinin” Farina but styled Pininfarina after 1961) to shroud the European-influenced chassis with Euro-style coachwork.

According to Gooding & Company, who are offering that chassis for sale this month in Monterey, that someone was GM Lead Stylist Bill Mitchell, who was seeking a design proposal. What he got back from Italy was the Coupe Speciale you see here, but not in the form you see it. As it was displayed at the Paris and Turin, Italy motor shows and shown on the March 1961 cover of Road & Track, the Coupe Speciale wore a version of this hardtop styling, but with a much more sloped, Porsche- or Citroën-style nose with single round headlamps. It also still wore ’60 Corvair dog-dish hubcaps on steel wheels.

When it first appeared on the show circuit, the Coupe Speciale still had a Corvair windshield and in its second iteration, wore 1961 Monza wheel covers like the ones illustrated here.

After that first show season, prolific automotive designer Tom Tjaarda was called on the reconfigure the coupe as a 2+2. He also redesigned the car’s rear end in a more angular vein, expanded the side windows, and added the car’s now-characteristic ellipse-shaped headlamp housings. In this form, painted dark green and wearing ’61 Monza wheel covers, it was again on the cover of Road & Track, in February 1963. In a final restyling, sometime thereafter, Tjaarda reconfigured the A-pillars to remove the final visual connection to the early Corvair.

Given the lead times required by production and the nebulous dates connected with some of Tjaarda’s remodeling efforts, it’s hard to say how much the Coupe Speciale influenced the styling of the Late Model (1965-’69) Corvair two-door hardtop versus itself being influenced by the direction Chevrolet stylists were already taking, but the resemblance is clear and the efforts of both the great Pininfarina and the legendary Tom Tjaarda make this one special Corvair.

Read on

This 1997 Ford F-250 brings bespoke style to the overlanding scene – David Conwill  @Hemmings

Advertisements
The originally diesel-powered F-250 was almost too nice to disassemble, but its clean state also aided in getting the project underway without a lot of repair work. The ease of getting it made the team think “yeah, we’re supposed to be doing this.”

Design by committee doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean that a large team can’t come together and build something spectacular. In the August 2021 issue we introduced Project Artemis, this 1997 Ford F-250 crew-cab pickup whose ambitious build was undertaken by 41 partners, including Hemmings. Wisely, most of the detail choices were left to the discretion of Crystal and Kurt Lawrance at KTL Restorations in Danville, Virginia. They’re not big on titles at KTL, but Kurt is owner and president of the business that he founded with his late father, and Crystal is his wife and enthusiastic business partner.

KTL is just now expanding into overlanding builds from the muscle-car restoration and restomod field, bringing a fresh sensibility to what has become a rapidly expanding market. Partnering with KTL in this capacity was a decision that paid off, as the company’s vision pioneered not only several technical developments in the off-road/overlanding field but has sown the seeds for an expansion of that field into 1992-’96 (and early ’97) “Old Body Style” (OBS) Ford trucks.

That expansion includes both OE-style reproduction parts, notably from Complete Performance (aka CP Addicts), in Jasper, Texas; and in modified (by Kurt) off-the-shelf pieces from places like KC HiLiTES in Williams, Arizona, and Clackamas, Oregon-based Warn Industries

Thanks to minimal rust and damage, no panels were replaced on the clean, three-owner truck. Instead, to prepare for paint, a few small patches were installed, some minor cleanup was done, and some dents were pulled out using Spanesi Americas equipment.
This is just before Lizard Skin was applied to the bottom of the cab. A pure show build would have simply used paint, but functionality demands something tougher.
The graphics took a long time to nail down, but the end result (executed in paint, not vinyl) reflects the ‘90s nostalgia meets 2020s technology theme perfectly.

Body

In case you hadn’t noticed, 1990s-’00s nostalgia is hot—both among the millennials who lived it and the Gen Z kids who wish they had. There was no question that the classic OBS elements had to stay in place among the state-of-the-art overlanding bits. Thankfully, the crew-cab F-250 was found (“on a little bitty car lot in North Carolina”) with almost preternatural speed. The dry, Southwestern truck needed minimal bodywork and was treated to BASF Glasurit paints in pearlescent white and two shades of blue. The underside was sprayed with blue-tinted Lizard Skin for a durable, yet attractive, undercoating. The mountain and stripes graphic package was initially conceived by Crystal’s 16-year-old daughter.

The original fuel tanks were cleaned and re-sealed using POR-15 products, then reinstalled in the factory-issued frame, which itself was cleaned up and coated with POR-15. The restored frame was then ready for the installation of new suspension.
This isn’t the complete kit from RYD, just a part of it, but it gives some sense of the number of fabricated pieces needed to marry the OBS frame to 2005 axles.

Read on

Allentown, Pennsylvania’s NB Center for American Automotive Heritage is a refugium of 20th century skills and technology – David Conwill @Hemmings

Advertisements

Have you ever gone looking for an early 1930s Buick hubcap? If you need one, good luck. The two-piece design didn’t prove very durable over the years and their scarcity can pose a real issue for anyone looking to do a correct restoration of one of the Flint-built beauties of the era. When the crew at the NB Center for American Automotive Heritage, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, discovered the paucity of restorable hubcaps out there, their solution was not to give up or compromise, but simply to build their own run of 30 reproductions—a process that required not only casting the two pieces but also creating a crimping tool to attach the pieces correctly.

That’s a small, but typical example of the policies and practices there, on the campus that used to be Allentown’s Boulevard Theatre (they kept the screen), all of which are centered on keeping an enormous collection of typical (i.e. not necessarily special beyond having survived seven or eight decades) mid-20th century American cars running, driving, and uncompromisingly correct. Preserving the original driving experience is paramount and is as much a focus as a historically correct appearance.

This 1953 Nash is on a lift in the mechanical shop having its chassis reassembled.

Other skills kept alive despite time having marched on for consumers include expertise like interior stitchery—right down to things like handmade windlace and door panel trimming; panel beating (sometimes you just have to make a fender from scratch); woodgraining using a bucket of water, Borax, and paint; and even simply the operation of machines that have controls at one time standard, but increasingly left behind in a world of CVTs, touch screens, lane control, and whatnot.

Why the focus on 1920s, ’30s, ’40s, and early ’50s cars, though? Simply put, the NB Center’s founder Nicola Bulgari (vice chairman of the luxury brand that bears his family name) early on identified those as the most emblematic of “American” cars and the middle-class supremacy of their time and place. It’s something he first recognized and came to value as a teenager in the 1950s and has chosen to help preserve for the benefit of the future—us included. One of Mr. Bulgari’s favorite utterances is that Europeans don’t understand American cars. Let us add to that neither do many Americans anymore.

The original Boulevard Drive-In screen was retained above the test track and is still used.

Consider that Billy Joel’s Allentown came out in 1982. That’s the year I was born. I don’t remember the glory years of American manufacturing—but I do. The middle-class, aspirational-yet-attainable marques that make up the bulk of the NB Center’s fleet (I like that better than “collection”—collections need dusting, not oil changes) are a living, breathing monument to that era of promise and optimism. Here to inspire today’s generation, if they’ll let it.

Many do. You might expect the expertise in a facility like this to consist solely of old timers—the graybeards that knew the skill firsthand, or learned at the knee of those who did. They’re there, to be sure, but so are a lot of up-and-comers. Fresh, young faces excited to be working on machines 50 or more years older than themselves.

Read on

Five pieces of modern technology that improve old-car ownership – David Conwill @Hemmings

Advertisements

Hemmings Graphic Designer Josh Skibbee recently gave me a 1945-built Delta-Milwaukee drill press. It’s a whopping big cast-iron thing (despite being intended mostly for woodworking) with a a remarkably good parts supply and a deep following among vintage-machine aficionados. It’s a device perfectly on-theme for my workshop: old-time quality with modern support.

I like old stuff vintage material culture a lot. That’s probably an understatement. If my friends think of me as someone who enjoys history, they equally know that it was gazing on the stylish and over-built remnants of the 20th century Machine Age that piqued my interest in the topic. I wouldn’t want to live in the past, but I sure appreciate its artifacts.

I also recognize that my ability to make practical use of things made long before I was born is facilitated in no small part by living in the current era of high technology (and no, I don’t mean the 4.1L V-8 in my wife’s Cadillac). This drill press, with its ideal combination of vintage quality and practicable ownership demonstrates the perfect crossover of the modern and the old. It led me to reflect on the top five things I’m grateful for in present–and future–tech:

Old technical manuals are the best, but without the internet how would you learn about the tips and tricks (and corrections!) that enhance the vintage manual? In fact, it would be considerably harder to acquire the manual at all, without the internet.

The Internet

As time and technology march on, the know-how that built earlier ages is gradually lost. Paper goods are called “ephemera” for a reason—they don’t last forever without careful handling. Archives are small and spread out, but the greatest thing about the Information Age is that we can endlessly share digital files with that same information. A blueprint that might have been lost in a collector’s filing cabinet in Saginaw, Michigan, or an archive in San Diego, California, can be shared worldwide in an instant. Dedicated craftsmen who believe in the value of keeping earlier machines alive can build parts (sometimes using CNC technology they could only have dreamed at in 1945!) to eke out decades more use from simple and robust machines: cars, drill presses, audio equipment, whatever.

Back in the ’60s, AM radio was often the only way to listen to rock and roll. These days, it’s seemingly all talk radio. Digital music means that with some subtle changes, you can listen to whatever you want through your original radio.

Digital Music

I grew up in the cassette era, when the roadsides fluttered with the shattered remains of people’s favorite tunes. I watched FM radio die a slow death of strangulation by focus group. I am super grateful that thanks to digitization, it’s possible to carry the music of your choice on your person and, with some clever wiring, even pipe it directly into the amplifier of a vintage radio.

Apple’s successful extermination of the 3.5-mm jack standard has put a new wrinkle in this since I last arranged it, but adding an aux input to a vintage radio is not an insurmountable task. You’re rewarded with that “warm, rich” tube sound from your monoaural dash speaker. Perhaps not a treat for the full audiophile, but, like gear whine and the smell of warm vinyl, a proper sensory experience for a vintage car. It’s a part of the appeal.

Space-age materials like Viton O-rings and silicone gaskets were still just dreams in 1962, but today they are the easiest way to seal up a drippy ’62 Corvair.

Aerospace-grade Materials and Processes

While I’m grateful that vintage machines have room for my decidedly analog/mechanical level of wrenching, I’m also utterly chuffed to live in an era where modern materials and precision machine work can be applied to produce unheard of levels of power, smoothness, and longevity from long-obsolete designs. Much like a woodworker is thrilled by the opportunity to work with dense-grained, old-growth lumber, the extra-sturdy, basic building blocks of antique cars and other machinery can be refined beyond the wildest dreams of their designers.

I just bought a set of silicone gaskets to re-seal the rocker covers and oil pan on my ’62 Corvair (I need one for the Powerglide pan too, but they are out of stock). When the Corvair was new, paper and cork gaskets were the standard. Silicone, which was discovered in 1901, didn’t really take off as an industrial material until the ’80s. Nowadays, the existence of silicone gaskets, which are heat- and chemically resistant, permits a car owner to remove and replace parts with intermediate gaskets indefinitely, without having to use a new gasket each time.

Read on

What to keep in mind if you’re thinking about buying a vehicle sight unseen – David Conwill @Hemmings

Advertisements
Getting a clean ’63 Impala isn’t as easy as it used to be. What if you’re looking at one on the other side of the country

The Hemmings Nation’s collective wisdom is a powerful thing if you comb through it and distill it down. Back in March, Dan Strohl asked, “Have you ever bought a car sight unseen?” and a number of you chimed in with experiences and advice.

The broad consensus was that it’s okay… under certain circumstances. The main advice is to adjust your expectations (and potential offer) to accommodate for the reality that most things look better in a carefully composed photo than in person. Take the words and images of an ad at face value and, more often than not, you’ll end up overpaying.

Responses essentially boiled down to No, Yes, and Yes But, with only one or two commenters offering unqualified yesses, often illustrated with stories that demonstrated extenuating circumstances. The no answers often stemmed from hard-won experience in having purchased one vehicle sight-unseen followed by the gut-wrenching disappointment of having a vehicle delivered that was far worse than expected.

The yes-but answers are probably the most indicative of the realities of the car-buying landscape as a whole. Temporal exigency is one, extreme rarity (Robert Wingerter talked about buying a 1-of-15 Cal-Ace and Joe Essid mentioned that his Project Apollo Buick was an exception for him because they’re so hard to find) is another, as is the hiring of a qualified inspector. There were also a few comments indicating that if the price is right, it’s worth rolling the dice and, in fact, the gamble is part of the fun.

“Sight unseen” is almost no longer a thing, and that is, perhaps, the biggest reality of all. With quality digital photography available virtually everywhere, long-distance transactions happen successfully every day—but it was universally noted that it’s the buyer’s task to demand the correct photos, know what to look for, and know what questions to ask. On top of that, one has to also somehow evaluate the character of the seller to determine if they are being evasive or untruthful in their responses.

Hans1965, from overseas, noted that for foreign buyers there is really no alternative. He’s been burned in the past, he says, but advises, “Be prepared for disappointment, but if you love the car, you get over this and enjoy it…. This is part of the hobby. I have accepted that. The joy to bring an old car back on the road outweighs the pain many times.”

“Even seeing one in person is not a guarantee if you are a bone-head like me,” Joe Essid remarks. Joe purchased a Miata that ticked all the boxes and passed his visual inspection, but found out later via Carfax that he’d purchased a rebuilt wreck—tanking its resale value. Nielen Stander chimes in that Carfax Reports for late models are becoming a standard offering from large-volume dealers and auction houses—though Mark Axen notes that he purchased a late-model pickup with a clean report that still displayed evidence of repairs. “Guess it was minor damage and not reported,” was his surmise.

In that vein, commenter Frog points out that such services are “not a reveal-all.” He prefers to trust his “six senses,” the sixth being common sense, in light of his own experiences. That’s important advice whether looking at a car directly or contemplating one from a distance. It’s probably closest to how I evaluated my own sight-unseen purchase last spring, which turned out to be a great car. Since experience can’t be taught, if you’re looking at your first oldie, it’s good to have the assistance of a knowledgeable friend or club member when evaluating a seller’s representations and photos.

As norm1200 says, “Generally, I don’t advise buying without personally inspecting (or hiring a professional third party), [but] that’s assuming the buyer knows how to reasonably inspect a vehicle.”

Read on

Knowing when to walk away: Why I decided not to build my 1921 Ford Model T and what I’ll do instead – David Conwill @Hemmings

Advertisements
Tilly came home on a trailer, but as of this writing is already a running and driving car. She just needs some help to be ready for the roads of her second century.

Last night, I decided I can’t continue with my Model T project. It’s a tough decision. I’ve wanted a Model T touring car since I was about eight years old (that’s 30 summers now) and I’ve now owned two different touring car bodies and a complete car. I’ve tried really, really hard to make a Model T happen, but it never seems to work out.

If you’ve been following my columns, you know that I’ve been planning to rebuild my ’21 into an early-1930s style hot rod, called a gow job. I’ve wanted a gow since I first learned that hot rodding predated World War II—those cars look awesome and because they’ve got improved power, handling, and braking, they’re a lot more usable than a purely stock 1920s car.

Nevertheless, I’m an adult and not independently wealthy. It’s tough enough to have three kids, a house, and two cars for transportation. A purely “fun” car is great but it would be an irresponsible avenue to continue pursuing–I’ll live off ramen to fund a project, but I won’t ask my family to do that. We have more practical needs to look after first. In fact, I’ll be putting my Model T and parts up for sale soon and putting that money into the home-improvement fund

Our ’08 Charger police car. It has 350 horsepower when it isn’t shutting down cylinders at random. That’s my old ’62 Falcon behind it.

This doesn’t mean I’m done with old cars, though. Far from it. It just means that I’ve got to rethink my driver situation. Our current fleet consists of a 2008 Dodge Charger police car and a 1983 Cadillac Sedan de Ville. The Charger we’ve had for five years, and while it’s fun to drive, it has an increasing number of electrical maladies and has been spending a lot of time in the shop. Once it’s fixed, it can find a new home with someone who enjoys working on late-model Mopars.

The Cadillac we got just last week. It is very cool but I can’t see us keeping it—it’s too nice. That sounds weird, but the biggest problem with the Cadillac is that it was purchased new by my wife’s grandfather the same year she was born. A car with that level of sentimental value is something of a white elephant in and of itself. It only has 23,000 miles on it and it’s a perfectly preserved cream puff. Putting wear and tear on it would be heartbreaking, and fixing all the luxury features as they age would be an utter nightmare. Instead, I intend to polish it up (I’ve been spending a lot of time researching paint care), tune it up, and try to find it a good home before the end of the summer.

Read on

Only at Hershey Will You See a Once-common, Now-rare Car Like This 1926 Chevrolet Superior for Sale on the Street – David Conwill @Hemmings

Advertisements

1926 Chevrolet Superior V

Hershey is a lot more diverse than it used to be, but the AACA Eastern Fall Meet remains one of the nation’s premier sources for prewar cars, parts, and automobilia. Case in point is this 1926 Chevrolet Superior V, seen in the car corral at the 2021 Hershey Meet. That’s V-as-in-Victory, not V-as-in-five; preceding Superiors were the 1923 Superior B, 1924 Superior F, and 1925 Superior K. While not outstanding in any particular way, it was the stylish, slightly more luxurious Chevrolet Superior that finally drove the utilitarian Ford Model T out of the market and made way for the ever-popular 1928-’31 Ford Model A.

Because of their wood-heavy construction and middling metallurgy, surviving General Motors products from the 1920s are thin on the ground today, especially the inexpensive Chevrolet cars, which didn’t often see second lives as hop ups or long-lived, Depression-era jalopies. In 2022, most pre-1936 Chevrolet cars are found as piles of rusty sheetmetal and occasionally as preserved engines running sawmills or other improvised machinery. Encountering a solid, nearly complete Chevrolet coupe that runs and drives for under $10,000 is a noteworthy experience, then.

Of course, this car was far from perfect, and was said to be a restoration project (started circa 1994) that originated as a barn find. The upholstery was slightly mismatched and appeared to be rodent damaged, though it wasn’t stained and seemed repairable. The exterior looked good at a glance, in period colors with nicely applied pinstriping, but the finish (apparently lacquer, replicating the original Duco) had cracked and lost adhesion in several places. The car boasted only a front bumper, leading us to wonder whether that was a later addition, or if the rear had been omitted since new. Nevertheless, those were cosmetic issues only and minor—easily overlooked on a car that already ran (nicely, even), drove, and stopped.

Read on